Posts Tagged ‘flotilla’

Israel’s Attorney General Not To Press Charges Against Israelis Taking Part in Marmara Flotilla

December 26, 2011

Here’s another fine example as to why Israel is a democracy (Being under constant attack, this for some reason is a point that needs constant proof and validation, while other democracies around the world, whose actions can certainly be more than just questioned, do not face this kind of de-legitimacy to their democracy) –

Israel’s Attorney General, Yehuda Weinstein, decieded after about 18 months of deliberations and contemplations, to close the cases and not press charges against all Israeli citizens that took part in the infamous May 2009 Mavi Marmara flotilla, including one Israeli-Arab Knesset Member, Hanin Zoabi.

In May of 2009, a flotilla of six ships and boats made it’s way from several ports in Europe towards Gaza, in an open declared attempt to breach Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip (imposed on January 3rd 2009 in order to intercept all ships trying to reach Gaza, after Hamas’ rockets arsenal [that he continued to fire towards Israel] grew, and several Iranian ships were intercepted with weapons on them hiding behind a slim amount of pseudo-humanatarian aid). When the flotilla ships were unwilling to have their ships checked in either an Israeli or an Egyptain port and have the humanatarian supplies aboard sent through the land-crossings, Israeli commandos were sent to impose the blockade as the ships were nearing Gaza’s territorial water, and found a violent resistance by a relatively small (but dangerous) group of passengers. In an armed battle that ensues, nine of these violent passangers were killed and about 10 Israeli soldiers were severely wounded. The ships and the passengers were directed to an Israeli port where they were arrested, but 24 hours later the Attorney General decieded to deport foreign passengers rather than keep them locked in Israeli prisoners for the duration of such investigation. As a result, all charges were dropped against all foreign passengers.

The Israeli passengers however were still in question. It should be noted that they were never suspected of attacking the soldiers, but their involvement in an attempt to breach the blockade imposed by Israel, as well as take part in this kind of activity organized by the IHH, at the time already outlawed and declared a terror-associated organization for over a year, was under investigation.

Where some countries in our world (and let’s be honest – some of the more powerful countries) might simply arrest, shoot or who-knows-what-else, it took Israel’s Attorney General and Justice Ministery 18 months to decide if there are real merits and basis to press charges. Last Thursday, the Justice Ministery released a statement saying that “After examining the overall evidence in the case and the legal issues pertaining to the matter, the attorney general has decided to close the case as result of significant evidentiary and legal difficulties.”

None of this, of course, comes to serve as any excuse or justification for this provacative political (none-humanitarian) flotilla, that like all others should have ended peacefully. The charges un-pressed have nothing to do with that, but with other matters as stated above, including the difficulty today to prove there was criminal intent when so many other activists were released (for completely other reasons, but the courts tie one with the other), and due to fact that the supposed illegal association was done soley abroad and proves a difficulty to impose Israeli’s law system on such actions.

To be honest, I think most of the public in Israel has forgetting that is even a question – 18 months is a long time.

Advertisements

Quick Q&A – What is Israel’s problem with a Nuclear Iran?

November 21, 2011

Ever since I started this blog, I’ve never written once about the Iranian issue. It’s one that is very complex and honestly, while Israel is the country most associated with anti-Nuclear Iran news, it is not an issue that is exculsive to Israel. But now, 2 weeks since the IAEA report about Iran, I figured maybe it’s time to lay it out – simple, flat and avoid the complexities. At least attempt it.

The following are a few “brief” answers to the core issues regarding Iran and its’ nuclear program. If you have more questions I haven’t addressed here, I’d be more than happy to answer them in the comments and add them to the post.

Here we go –

Which countries have nuclear weapons today?

United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and South Africa. Only the first five listed have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

According to countless reports around the world, Israel also has nuclear bombs.

Iran claims it is no moving towards a nuclear weapon, just nuclear energy, isn’t it?

Iran also claims it has free elections and absolutely no gay people — shall I continue?

The IAEA report heavily relies on many (and various) intelligence agencies that suggest otherwise.

What are the threats a nuclear Iran posses NOT to Israel?

Iran poses many threats to many countries – Israel is certainly not the only (or the first) who is in danger, though it is the one being heard most loudly on this subject.

First and foremost, the Iranian regime seems to hold to a believe that Iran is not limited to its’ current borders, but is entitled to the entire Persian Gulf. Many countries, such as Iraq and Bahrain, fear an attack from Iran. This is also a religious matter – a war between Sunni and Shiite, but goes much further than that. The fear is with nuclear weapons, Iran would not hesitate to attack its’ neighbors in an attempt to seize control over the Gulf area (where still currently many NATO soldiers are deployed), knowing that many countries would fear retaliation due to the possibility of a nuclear war.

Moreover, there’s a growing fear that the fear of a nuclear Iran would in fact ignite a nuclear race in the Middle East, which is the equivelant of lighting a match in a room filled with gas. The number of countries holding nuclear weapons would double, the instability would increase to unimaginable levels and chances for peace and calm in the area could very well be no longer possible. Many countries have already attempted to move towards nuclear energy in the past and were faced with pressure by the Western world recoginizing the instability ahead (close to home, some of these countries  are Jordan, Egypt and Hezbollah-ruled Lebanon. Syria’s nuclear powers were destoryed in 2007, supposedly by Israel).

Even further, there’s is a fear from what more Iran will allow itself to do (past possible attacks and attempts to conquer the Gulf area), such as the threats towards Europe. Iran’s missiles can now reach deep into Eastern Europe and could very well reach past Germany in the not-so-distant future. Iran’s declared contempt towards Western lifestyle and capatalism is no secret. Even without that, having Iran place missile battries that could fire at any second to the heart of Paris, Berlin, Brussels etc is a risk no many care to take, giving the behaviour of the Iranian regime.

And what are the threats to Israel itself?

First of all, the Iranian regime does not miss an opportunity to talk about what the call The need to wipe Israel off the map. They continually call Israel by the name of the zionist regime (and zionist dogs, devils etc) and refuse to call by its’ name, acknowledge its’ existence. Just today, an Iranian official said he hoped for an Israeli attack so Iran could have the chance to finally “throw Israel to the trashcan of history” — would you be comfortable having an ally that talks like that obtaining means of mass destruction?

Today, Iran funds many terror organizations working against Israel and mainly to hurt, harm and kill its’ citizens. Israel is faced with endless barraged of rockets fired upon it for almost 11 years now and it all comes from Iranian money. It was a major funder of Hamas until the uprising in Syria and it still funding over a dozen terror organizations in the Gaza Strip as well as Hezbollah – a terror organization with perhaps more weapons and soldiers than the Labanese army itself, which today almost completely de-facto rules the parliment of Lebanon, turning it in to a dummy state control by puppet master Ahmadinejad.

In 2002, while The Second Intifida was happening and suicide bombers were killing people on a weekly (sometimes daily) basis, Israeli army caught a ship, named Karin A, loaded with weapons on its’ way to the terrorists from Iran at sea. In 2006, Israeli Navy caught a ship, Franco, with large amounts of weapons headed to Hezabollah. The latest capture known was in March of 2011 when the ship Victoria was captured and was found loaded with weapons hidden by humanatarian supplies, meant to be taken by foot to Gaza from the port.

With so much money, effort and time the Iranian regime spends arming terrorists who aim to kill and injure as many Israeli people – soldiers and civilians alike – as possible, Imagine what a nuclear Iran would allow itself to do? With what weapons it might allow itself to arm these terrorists?

If [supposedly] Israel has nuclear weapons, why can’t others?

See above — Iran is openly calling for the destruction of Israel and is constantly arming terrorists with weapons turned against Israel. Many countries fear a nuclear Iran, Wikileaks leaks proved that, but most of the immediate-threat countries cannot speak up because there’s a silence norm (almsot conspiracy) among Muslim and Arab countries. Many countries are afraid but rely on Israel to do the dirty work for them – another reason why they would never speak up.

What measures have been taken against Iran’s nuclear program already?

The Western world has called for talks to find a solution to allow Iran to have nuclear plants for peaceful purporses with the proper measurement taken to promise it won’t be used for a military purposes as well. Iran has rejects most of these talks and have used them to stall. Two years ago, it even ended the talks by signing a deal with Turkey and Brazil that will enrich uranium on Turkey’s soil rather than its’ own — in much larger quantaties that the West was willing to accept in the aforementioned talks.

There have numerous reports of viruses developed by Israel and the United States that have been targeting Iran’s nuclear plants. Iran itself has admitted its’ plants were attacked and its’ program has been slowed down and have blamed Israel and the United States for the attack.

Aren’t sanctions helpful?

Not really. It may be that the sanctions so far have not been hard enough to yield results, but the truth is Iran is still moving fast towards in nuclear plans and not slowing down really. The sanctions have been painful, no doubt, but it mostly took its’ toll on the civilian population, most of which already suffering to begin with by the regime that’s controling them. In one of the most unfree societies in the world (an accomplishment all in its own), and with the amounts of torture and killings inflicted by the regime and its’ authorities, many don’t have the chance and the opportunity to fight for their rights, as well as jobs, the economy and lifting of sanctions.

With its’ economy still deteriorating by the sanctions and more sanctions forced upon it, the Iranian regime still spends so much money on military plans, nuclear programs and funding of terror organizations. I can’t imagine there’s a satisfying amount left for the wellbeing of the Iranian people (though again – their wellbeing never seemed to be an issue for the regime).

So what… a military action is the only option?

Israel has a saying – “Always keep all options on the table.” A military operation is one of them. I cannot speak (because I do not really know) what the consequences and effiency an attack can have, but all options are on the table.

Just as with his speech before the US Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu always says that If you make sure the military option is placed on the table, you’d less likely need to use it. He hoped the deterance of such operation, just like the one Israel took before with Iraq in 1981 (and suppodely again with Syria in 2007), would be enough. Ironically, though, what many leaders around the world are doing is quiet the opposite – they’re revoking the military option time and time again, giving Iran the greener light to proceed in the meantime, and perhaps making the military operation they so oppose much more needed (unlike Israel’s stand that the more real it seems, the less likely it is to be used).

Seriously – Iran would actually use a nuclear weapon?

Honestly, I don’t really believe Iran having a nuclear weapon would mean it shall use it. But it will allow itself so much more, and will acquire psychological deterance… today it only sends “conventional” weapons to terrorists. Who will dare attack it tomorrow when it starts sending chemical weapons (such as mustard gas) to Hezbollah and the other terrorists it funds today and that today shoot blindly and proudly into civilian populations? Moreover, how much deterance will those terror groups get? How much power? That is the true danger of a nuclear armed Iran.

Israel aids the Turkish victims of earthquake

October 28, 2011

This past sunday, a devastaing earthquake shocked a region in East Turkey. I’m sure you’ve heard about it – as with every natrual disaster, the horrifying stories of the wreckage, the victims and the amazing stories of those survived and pulled out of debris after so many days makes headlines and front-page news. The earthquake in Turkey was no excpetion of course.

As the magnitude of the disaster came to light, a few short hours after the earthquake happened, Israel did what is always does in these situations – it began to offer help to Turkey in handling this disaster. As a policy, Israel offers help whenever it can to whomever it can help. It did so in Haiti, Japan, New Zealand and much more.

In 1999, when a truly catastrophic earthquake hit Turkey, an Israeli team build a camp for people who suddenly became homeless. In a short while, it builded a village that housed 3,000 people and contained 312 housing units, a shopping center, a clinic, playgrounds, a school where about 420 children contiuned to study and much more. It also sent rescue teams that helped dig and recover people from under wreckage.

Today, even though ties between the governments of Israel and Turkey are strained, Israel offered help in a short while and from four different fronts – through the Israeli Prime Minister, through the Israeli Prisdent, through the Ministery of Defense and through the Ministery of foriegn relations.

On Tuesday, Turkey agreed to receive help from the world and has asked Israel to faciliate in forming a similiar village, only smaller this time. Israel has sent an airplane full of 5 transportable housing units that can easily be hooked up to water and electricy, and in addition sent 2,000 brass coats, 2,000 brass blankets and 100 inflatable matresses. This morning another airplane took off with more aid to Turkey and Israel is preparing to send much more transportable housing units through the sea (since a ship can carry much more than an airplane).

This of course does not change the diplomatic relations between the countries. Turkey is still holding to its’ hardline policy against Israel. The reasons for their acts as “the neighborhood bully”, especially against Israel (but not exculsive, as Cyprus can tell you), I have already explained.

It is amazing though how the public, to whom this animosity has trickled to, doesn’t stop for one second to think – They’re accusations are that Israel delibertly attacked a humanitarian convoy, not that it was trying to impose a blockade (one that they view as illegal) on a convoy that refused to comply peacefully. Yet, here is one of great examples that Israel is helpful to humanitarian causes and takes an active part in them. Even when it comes to people living under governments who act against it. It’s surprising they won’t stop to ask for one second, if perhaps that convoy and the relatively small number of people upon it who chose violent and incitement that ended in nine casualties and many wounded on both sides was also in the wrong. At the flotilla incident on May 31th, Israel offered many times to deliver the humanitarian aid aboard the vessels through the land corssings. It has no problem with humanitarian aid, it does not act in a none-humanitarian way. It’s sad that even now they won’t open their eyes and ask – maybe not just one side was in the wrong?

Turkey expels Israeli Ambassador, worsens ties

September 2, 2011

Today at noon, in response to the publication of the Palmer Report (UN inquiry on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident),  Turkey has announced it is worsening its’ diplomatic relations with Israel and a series of steps regarding that worsening. Turkey has completely disregarded the findings of the report, a report which completely contradicts all of their claims towards Israel, the blockade on Gaza and its’ operation to intercept the flotilla.

Before I elaborate on the Turkish response, here are the reports’ main findings (who favor Israel’s narrative):

  • “Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.” (Summary, Facts, Circumstances and Context of the Incident, ii)
  • “Although people are entitled to express their political views, the flotilla acted recklessly in attempting to breach the naval blockade [..] there exist serious questions about the conduct, true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers, particularly IHH. The actions of the flotilla needlessly carried the potential for escalation.” (Summary, Facts, Circumstances and Context of the Incident, iv)
  • “The incident and its outcomes were not intended by either Turkey or Israel.” (Summary, Facts, Circumstances and Context of the Incident, v)
  • “Israeli Defense Forces personnel faced significant, organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers when they boarded the Mavi Marmara requiring them to use force for their own protection.” (Summary, Facts, Circumstances and Context of the Incident, vii)
  • “Three soldiers were captured, mistreated, and placed at risk by those passengers.” (Summary, Facts, Circumstances and Context of the Incident, vii)
  • “Attempts to breach a lawfully imposed naval blockade place the vessel and those on board at risk.” (Summary, How to Avoid Similar Incidents in the Future, General, viii)

Many claims of Turkey are refuted as well throughout the report, such as the claim that Israeli soldiers fired from a helicopter towards the activists. The report finds that Israeli soldiers only opened fire once they were attacked and did so to protect their lives. Also, the report finds that three soldiers were in fact kidnapped by activists, and NOT as Turkey tried to portray it “for medical care”.

(more…)

Turkey’s playing chicken

September 1, 2011

Unless there are (again) any last minute changes, Tomorrow (Friday, September 2nd) the Palmer Report will be submitted and handed to the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon. The Palmer Report is a summary of a UN inquiry into the flotilla incident at the end of May 2010 (where Israel’s Navy boarded a flotilla of ships sailing to break its’ naval blockade on Gaza and the erupted violence ended with the deaths of nine Turkish activists on board). After a long strain in relations, the flotilla incident marked the biggest rupture in Israeli-Turkish relations. The Palmer Report is an attempt by Secretary-General Moon in conducting an objective investigation of the incident (seeing as how the so-called “Human Rights Organization” in Geneva is controlled by a majority of anti-Israeli countries and holds a clear bias towards it). It is also an attempt to recover the relations between Israel and Turkey. That is one of the reason why the publishing of the report has been postponed time and time again since June 2011. It should be noted that this an agreed inquiry, the first of its’ kind, that had both an Israeli and a Turkish representative.

Turkey’s demands

Turkey claims that Israel has acted illegally. In its’ view, Israel assaulted civilians and peace activists sailing freely to Gaza in an attempt to break what they perceive as an illegal blockade. To Turkey’s narrative, Israel violated international law when it attacked the flotillas in international law and its’ soldiers boarded the ships with the intent of killings activists in order to deter future flotillas. It demands an Israeli apology to the incident and pay compensations to the families of the “victims”.

It should be noted that flotilla was not sailing under a Turkish flag, but rather the flag of the Comoros island. Nevertheless, its’ origin was well-known.

Israel’s narrative

Israel has a different view on things – first of all, this wasn’t the first and it wasn’t the last flotilla attempting to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza. It was, however, the biggest. In only one out of six ships, there were casualties. Israel views its’ blockade on Gaza legal and a legitimate method of war against Hamas who took over the Gaza Strip by violence in 2007 and has declared war and terror against Israel’s civilians. The blockade is a method to stop large shipments of weapons that can from reaching Hamas and the other militants in Gaza. Such flotillas who has humanitarian aid cover large quantities of weapons and ammunition have been found in the past on “Karin A”, “Francop”, and last March on “Victoria”.

Israel’s narrative is that it gave the ships sufficient and numerous warning that they were about to enter a blockaded area and have been responded that they ships do not intent to change their course and that they are headed the blockaded Gaza. That is when Israel sent its’ Navy to stop the ships by boarding and seizing control over it. To Israel’s narrative, while the flotilla had over 600 activists, a group of a few dozens, boarded separately when the flotilla was docked in Cyprus (at a Turkish port, it seems). These were not peace-activists but terrorists with the sole intention of inciting, creating violence and harming the soldiers that would board the ship (Israel has noted that it will do so to any ship attempting to break its’ blockade and has done so in the past). Due to lack of intelligence, the soldiers were prepared to only except mild resistance and not head-on violence. It was then that they opened fire and in resulting battles the none-peace activists were killed. Also, during the confrontation, 4 soldiers were abducted by the activists, one managed to break free and jumped ship.

Regarding the claims of international waters, Israel maintains that since the destination of the flotilla was known and since its’ blockade is legal, it had every right to intercept the ships in international waters, a few miles off the waters of Gaza. It did so because the flotillas were sailing slow (in order to have the confrontation be at broad daylight), and wanted to intercept the ships at night. Israel refuses to the apologies for what it perceives as no more than a provocation and an attempt to harm its’ soldiers, as well as de-legitimize it. Israel’s official stand is that it refuses to pay compensations (although there were reports of it willing to pay through a third-party fund).

The Palmer Report

The Palmer report’s main points have already been leaked to the media before its’ initial publication date – June 2011. The most recent leak was posted by The New York Times today. Turkey has called the commission’s’ first draft “a difficult” one. It is known to say:

  1. Israel’s blockade of Gaza is legal and adheres all international laws and principals regarding the imposing of a naval blockade.
  2. Israel’s interception of the flotilla in international waters was legal.
  3. However, there was a disproportionate response and soldiers took grave measures to protect themselves (The report finds that the Israeli soldiers were in danger and met great violence on board but their response was extremely harsh and disproportionate). The report is set to have eye-witnesses who claim to have seen soldiers firing live ammunition in many accounts. Israel has responded that it can give answer to any event. Its’ independent Turkel commission’s report have pointed out that it found 133 incidents of confrontation (among them three involving live ammunition being used and three others with physical force being used). It found 127 incidents, including those mentioned specifically (live ammunition and physical force) to be just and marked six others as not having enough evidence and material to determine either way.
  4. The report is highly critical of the organizers, the Turkish IHH organization, and has found that it made preparations for violence and has in fact organized a violent resistance.
  5. The report alludes to Turkey’s responsibility and spurring of the events, saying it did not make enough efforts to stop the activists.
  6. The report does suggest that Israel apologizes for the results of the interception and will find some way to compensate the families, but does not demand it or find it a necessity under international law.

(more…)


%d bloggers like this: